The island is small – very small, about the same population as Guildford (UK) just 21 square miles in a very non-square shape which is nowhere more than two miles across from shore to shore. It is divided into 9 parishes of which Pembroke, Paget and Devonshire are the most central.
Sounds very English doesn’t it – place names certainly are and the language is, but there are plenty of differences that will catch you: take-out rather than take-away, sidewalk rather than pavement (of which there are very few), but as a British Overseas Territory then British expats will feel quite at home here.
So driving –
on the left – tick
traffic lights and roundabouts – tick
left hand drive cars – tick
I have been driving for over 30 years in UK but that doesn’t help the pre-test panics in any way. Yes, I said “test” – no way round it, everyone has to take a driving test to get a Bermudian licence and there are no exceptions for UK licence-holders. When you hear that the speed limit is 35km per hour (22 miles per hour) – well that’s easy then …. again, not at all – the roads are narrow, few road signs, unusual road markings, blind bends, dead ends, and strange Bermudian habits ….
Three things will strike you –
1. They beep the horn for anything and everything, it doesn’t mean you have done something wrong (well usually) it probably means hi, or there’s a rain cloud up ahead
2. Bermudians will stop in the middle of the road without warning, not pulling across to the side, perhaps to let out a passenger, or pick one up, or maybe just to talk to the driver of the car coming towards them
3. There are mopeds everywhere.
So now you have a place to live and a driving licence, your spouse is going out to work (even if it is 9-5 the pace of work will make it feel like retirement) so what on earth are you going to do?
I have always worked, yes with time out for family, but stopping work at 53 was not on my original plan. But what I have learnt is that I can make myself busy with almost anything, I am enjoying trying new things and to date (7 months) have not once missed work! Obviously the financial maths needs attention before embarking on a Bermuda adventure – the cost of living is high and health insurance is compulsory (no National Health Service). But there are many many people around my age doing a similar thing to us – almost-but-not-quite-retired.
Volunteer – fancy turtle scrubbing or zoo-keeping? meals-on-wheels or hospital visitor? librarian or receptionist? art gallery or historic house? teaching or reading? sponsored walks or gardening? archiving or scrap-booking? website or fundraising?
I chose to volunteer with the Bermuda National Trust – docent, museum reception, gift shop and researcher – none of these had I done before, yet I am enjoying them all immensely. Maybe next year I will try something different again.
Not all work – there are hundreds of clubs to join, golf, tennis, reading, women’s groups, walking, mah-jong, bridge, gardening, craft, poetry, drama, painting, ….
And together? snorkeling, swimming, boats, restaurants, travel…
Then there are days like today where you can just curl up with a book, a coffee and some music. 🙂